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November 7, 2018

Mary J. Davis has been named an Ashland-Spears Distinguished Research Professor of Law. She is one of the leading national scholars in the field of products liability. Her earliest article, written in 1992, continues to be cited today on the topic of design defect liability, one of the most complex areas in the field.

“This Professorship is one of the College of Law’s most distinguished professorships and is given to a current law professor who excels in research,” said David A. Brennen, Dean of UK College of Law.

According to one of the members of the selection committee, “Professor Davis’ 27-year history of excellence in research productivity and impact on the field of law is unquestioned. She has produced a body of scholarship that is widely cited in casebooks, journals, and even by the United States Supreme Court. She has been recognized as an expert in product Liability. She is perceived by her colleagues as being an agent of change.”  The selection committee consisted of UK Fine Arts Dean Mark Shanda, Chief Justice John Minton and Chief Judge Karen Caldwell.

Professor Davis is the co-author on the leading treatise in the field of product liability, OWEN AND DAVIS ON PRODUCTS LIABILITY (4th ed. 2014, West Publishing) and the widely adopted law school textbook Products Liability and Safety: Cases and Materials (7th ed. 2015) (including the annual case supplement and Teacher's Manual). Her articles have been cited in over 400 scholarly works by scholars from schools such as Harvard, New York University, Georgetown, and Vanderbilt. She has also been published in multiple law reviews.

Most notably, her article on federal preemption of state tort law was cited by the US Supreme Court in Wyeth v. Levine, 555 U.S. 555 (2009), a seminal case on preemption in cases involving pharmaceutical liability. That article, Unmasking the Presumption in Favor of Preemption, 53 S.C.L.Rev. 957 (2002), has been cited in more than 100 scholarly articles, and dozens of appellate briefs and other secondary sources.

She has held countless academic and administrative positions. Professor Davis was elected by the faculty to the Dean’s Advisory Executive committee more than ten times, was the Associate Dean of Administration and Faculty Development, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  She has been the visiting Professor of Law at four different Universities; William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law, Wake Forest University School of Law, Boston College School of Law, and the University of Texas School of Law.

In addition to demonstrated leadership in her field, Professor Davis holds active membership in prominent legal societies.  She is a member of the American Law Institute (ALI), the leading American learned legal society of lawyers, professors and judges.  She currently serves on the Executive committee of the Torts and Compensation System Section, Association of American Law Schools, and the American Bar Foundation.

Her awards include the University of Kentucky College of Law Outstanding Teacher and UKs Distinguished Teacher Award. She was nominated for the Sarah Bennett Holmes Award for Service to Women at UK.

Davis graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in History in 1979, and a Juris Doctors degree from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1985. She became a part of UKs faculty in 1991.

The Ashland Inc. – Spears Distinguished Research Professorship is a premier, five-year appointment awarded to recognize achievement in scholarship b full professors at the University of Kentucky College of Law.  Selection is based upon history of excellence in scholarly achievement and promise of excellence in scholarly achievement during the term of the Professorship.